Ottonian Renaissance

Ottonian Renaissance

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The Ottonian Renaissance was a limited "renaissance" of economy and art in central and southern Europe that accompanied the reigns of the first three emperors of the Saxon Dynasty, all named Otto: Otto I (936–973), Otto II (973–983), and Otto III (983–1002), and which in large part depended upon their patronage.

One of three medieval renaissances
Medieval renaissances
The medieval renaissances were periods characterised by significant cultural renewal right across medieval Western Europe. These are effectively seen as occurring in three phases - the Carolingian Renaissance , Ottonian Renaissance and the renaissance of the 12th century.The term was first used by...

, the Ottonian Renaissance began after Otto's marriage to Adelaide
Adelaide of Italy
Saint Adelaide of Italy , also called Adelaide of Burgundy, was the second wife of Otto the Great, Holy Roman Emperor...

 (951) united the kingdoms of Italy and Germany and thus brought the West closer to Byzantium
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 and furthered the cause of Christian (political) unity with his imperial coronation in 963. The period is sometimes extended to cover the reign of Henry II
Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor
Henry II , also referred to as Saint Henry, Obl.S.B., was the fifth and last Holy Roman Emperor of the Ottonian dynasty, from his coronation in Rome in 1014 until his death a decade later. He was crowned King of the Germans in 1002 and King of Italy in 1004...

 as well, and, rarely, the Salian dynasts
Salian dynasty
The Salian dynasty was a dynasty in the High Middle Ages of four German Kings , also known as the Frankish dynasty after the family's origin and role as dukes of Franconia...

. The term is generally confined to Imperial court culture conducted in Latin in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. - it is sometimes also known as the Renaissance of the 10th century, so as to include developments outside Germania, or as the Year 1000 Renewal, due to coming right at the end of the 11th century. It was shorter than the preceding Carolingian Renaissance
Carolingian Renaissance
In the history of ideas the Carolingian Renaissance stands out as a period of intellectual and cultural revival in Europe occurring from the late eighth century, in the generation of Alcuin, to the 9th century, and the generation of Heiric of Auxerre, with the peak of the activities coordinated...

 and to a large extent a continuation of it - this has led historians such as Pierre Riché to prefer evoking it as a 'third Carolingian renaissance', covering the 10th century and running over into the 11th century, with the 'first Carolingian renaissance' occurring during Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

's own reign and the 'second Carolingian renaissance' happening under his successors.

The Ottonian Renaissance is recognized especially in the arts
ARts
aRts, which stands for analog Real time synthesizer, is an audio framework that is no longer under development. It is best known for previously being used in KDE to simulate an analog synthesizer....

 and architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, invigorated by renewed contact with Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, in some revived cathedral schools, such as that of Bruno of Cologne
Bruno of Cologne
Saint Bruno of Cologne , the founder of the Carthusian Order, personally founded the order's first two communities...

, in the production of illuminated manuscript
Illuminated manuscript
An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniature illustrations...

s from a handful of elite scriptoria
Scriptorium
Scriptorium, literally "a place for writing", is commonly used to refer to a room in medieval European monasteries devoted to the copying of manuscripts by monastic scribes...

, such as Quedlinburg
Quedlinburg
Quedlinburg is a town located north of the Harz mountains, in the district of Harz in the west of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. In 1994 the medieval court and the old town was set on the UNESCO world heritage list....

, founded by Otto in 936, and in political ideology, The Imperial court became the center of religious and spiritual life, led by the example of women of the royal family: Matilda of Ringelheim
Matilda of Ringelheim
Saint Mathilda was the wife of King Henry I of Germany, the first ruler of the Saxon Ottonian dynasty, thereby Duchess consort of Saxony from 912 and German Queen from 919 until 936. Their eldest son Otto succeeded his father as German King and was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 962...

 the literate mother of Otto I, or his sister Gerberga of Saxony
Gerberga of Saxony
Gerberga of Saxony was a daughter of Henry the Fowler, King of Germany, and Matilda of Ringelheim.-Marriages:She married first Gilbert, Duke of Lorraine. They had four children:...

, or his consort Adelaide
Adelaide of Italy
Saint Adelaide of Italy , also called Adelaide of Burgundy, was the second wife of Otto the Great, Holy Roman Emperor...

, or Empress Theophanu
Theophanu
Theophanu , also spelled Theophania, Theophana or Theophano, was born in Constantinople, and was the wife of Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor.-Family:...

.

After Otto I's imperial coronation in 963
963
Year 963 was a common year starting on Thursday of the Julian calendar.- Asia :* Turkish Khan Sebük Tigin establishes his empire in modern day Afghanistan....

, there emerged a renewed faith in the idea of Empire in Otto's immediate circle and a reformed church, creating a period of heightened cultural and artistic fervor. Ottonian art
Ottonian art
In pre-romanesque Germany, the prevailing style was what has come to be known as Ottonian art. With Ottonian architecture, it is a key component of the Ottonian Renaissance named for the emperors Otto I, Otto II, and Otto III...

 was a court art, created to confirm a direct Holy and Imperial lineage as a source of legitimized power linked from Constantine and Justinian. In this atmosphere the masterpieces that were created fused the traditions which the new art was based on: paintings from Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

, the Carolingian
Carolingian Renaissance
In the history of ideas the Carolingian Renaissance stands out as a period of intellectual and cultural revival in Europe occurring from the late eighth century, in the generation of Alcuin, to the 9th century, and the generation of Heiric of Auxerre, with the peak of the activities coordinated...

 period, and Byzantium
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

. In this way, the term is used as an analogue to the Carolingian Renaissance
Carolingian Renaissance
In the history of ideas the Carolingian Renaissance stands out as a period of intellectual and cultural revival in Europe occurring from the late eighth century, in the generation of Alcuin, to the 9th century, and the generation of Heiric of Auxerre, with the peak of the activities coordinated...

 which accompanied Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

's coronation in 800
800
Year 800 was a leap year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar. It was around this time that the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years, so from this time on, the years began being known as 800 and onwards.- Europe :* December 25 - Pope Leo III...

.
A small group of Ottonian monasteries received direct sponsorship from the Emperor and bishops and produced some magnificent medieval illuminated manuscripts, the premier art form of the time. Corvey produced some of the first manuscripts, followed by the scriptorium at Hildesheim
Hildesheim
Hildesheim is a city in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is located in the district of Hildesheim, about 30 km southeast of Hanover on the banks of the Innerste river, which is a small tributary of the Leine river...

 after 1000. The most famous Ottonian scriptorium was at the island monastery of Reichenau
Reichenau Island
Reichenau Island lies in Lake Constance in southern Germany, at approximately . It lies between Gnadensee and Untersee, two parts of Lake Constance, almost due west of the city of Konstanz. The island is connected to the mainland by a causeway that was completed in 1838...

 on Lake Constance: hardly any other works have formed the image of Ottonian art as much as the miniatures which originated there. One of the greatest Reichenau works was the Codex Egberti, containing narrative miniatures of the life of Christ, the earliest such cycle, in a fusion of styles including Carolingian traditions as well as traces of insular and Byzantine influences. Other well known manuscripts included the Reichenau Evangeliary, the Liuther Codex, the Pericopes of Henry II
Pericopes of Henry II
The Pericopes of Henry II is a luxurious medieval illuminated manuscript made for Henry II, the last Ottonian Holy Roman Emperor, made c. 1002 – 1012 AD...

, the Bamberg Apocalypse
Bamberg Apocalypse
The Bamberg Apocalypse is an 11th century richly illuminated manuscript containing the Book of Revelation and a Gospel Lectionary....

 and the Hitda Codex
Hitda Codex
The Hitda Codex, an eleventh-century codex containing an evangeliary, a selection of passages from the Gospels, that was commissioned by Hitda, abbess of Meschede about 1020, is conserved in the Hessische Landesbibliothek, Darmstadt, Germany...

.

Hroswitha of Gandersheim characterises the changes which took place during the time. She was a nun
Nun
A nun is a woman who has taken vows committing her to live a spiritual life. She may be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live her life in prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent...

 who composed verse
Verse (poetry)
A verse is formally a single line in a metrical composition, e.g. poetry. However, the word has come to represent any division or grouping of words in such a composition, which traditionally had been referred to as a stanza....

 and drama
Drama
Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action" , which is derived from "to do","to act" . The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a...

, based on the classical
Classics
Classics is the branch of the Humanities comprising the languages, literature, philosophy, history, art, archaeology and other culture of the ancient Mediterranean world ; especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during Classical Antiquity Classics (sometimes encompassing Classical Studies or...

 works of Terence
Terence
Publius Terentius Afer , better known in English as Terence, was a playwright of the Roman Republic, of North African descent. His comedies were performed for the first time around 170–160 BC. Terentius Lucanus, a Roman senator, brought Terence to Rome as a slave, educated him and later on,...

. The architecture of the period was also innovative and represents a predecessor
Pre-Romanesque art
Pre-Romanesque art and architecture is the period in Western European art from either the emergence of the Merovingian kingdom in about 500 or from the Carolingian Renaissance in the late 8th century, to the beginning of the 11th century Romanesque period...

 to the later Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

.

Politically, theories of Christian unity and empire thrived, as well as revived classical notions of imperial grandeur in the West. Otto II had a Greek wife, Theophanu, and Byzantine iconography entered the West. The globus cruciger
Globus cruciger
The globus cruciger is an orb topped with a cross , a Christian symbol of authority used throughout the Middle Ages and even today on coins, iconography and royal regalia...

 became a symbol of kingly power and the Holy Roman Emperors were represented as crowned by Christ in the Byzantine fashion. It was in trying to revive the "glory that was Rome" that Otto III made the Eternal City
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 his capital and increased in Greco-Roman fashion the ceremony of the court.

Historiography



The concept of a renaissance was first applied to the Ottonian period by the German historian Hans Naumann
Hans Naumann
Hans Naumann was a German literary historian and folklorist .Naumann was born in Görlitz and died in Bonn...

 - more precisely, his work published in 1927 grouped the Carolingian and Ottonian periods together under the title Karolingische und ottonische Renaissance (The Carolingian and Ottonian Renaissance). This was only two years after Erna Patzelt's coining of the term 'Carolingian Renaissance' (Die Karolingische Renaissance: Beiträge zur Geschichte der Kultur des frühen Mittelalters, Vienna, 1924), and the same year as Charles H. Haskins
Charles H. Haskins
Charles Homer Haskins was an American historian of the Middle Ages, and advisor to US President Woodrow Wilson. He is considered to be America's first medieval historian.-Biography:...

 published The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century (Cambridge Mass., 1927).

Leading figures of the Ottonian Renaissance

  • Bernward of Hildesheim
    Bernward of Hildesheim
    Saint Bern[w]ard was the Bishop of Hildesheim from 993 until his death in 1022.Bernward came from a Saxon noble family and studied at the cathedral school of Hildesheim...

  • Hroswitha of Gandersheim
  • Otto I, Otto II, Otto III, and Henry II
  • Hermannus Contractus
    Hermannus Contractus
    Hermann of Reichenau , also called Hermannus Contractus or Hermannus Augiensis or Herman the Cripple, was an 11th century scholar, composer, music theorist, mathematician, and astronomer. He composed the Marian prayer Alma Redemptoris Mater...

  • Gerbert of Aurillac, pope as Sylvester II
  • Theophanu
    Theophanu
    Theophanu , also spelled Theophania, Theophana or Theophano, was born in Constantinople, and was the wife of Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor.-Family:...

  • Guido of Arezzo
    Guido of Arezzo
    Guido of Arezzo or Guido Aretinus or Guido da Arezzo or Guido Monaco or Guido d'Arezzo was a music theorist of the Medieval era...

  • Liutprand of Cremona
    Liutprand of Cremona
    Liutprand, also Liudprand, Liuprand, Lioutio, Liucius, Liuzo, and Lioutsios was a Lombard historian and author, and Bishop of Cremona....

    , author of Historia Ottonis ("The Deeds of Otto")
  • Bruno I, Archbishop of Cologne
    Bruno I, Archbishop of Cologne
    Bruno the Great was Archbishop of Cologne, Germany, from 953 until his death, and Duke of Lotharingia from 954. He was the brother of Otto I, king of Germany and later Holy Roman Emperor....

  • Widukind of Corvey
    Widukind of Corvey
    Widukind of Corvey was a Saxon historical chronicler, named after the Saxon duke and national hero Widukind who had battled Charlemagne. Widukind the chronicler was born in 925 and died after 973 at the Benedictine abbey of Corvey in East Westphalia...

    , author of Res gestae Saxonicae
    Res gestae saxonicae sive annalium libri tres
    The three-volume Res gestae saxonicae sive annalium libri tres is a chronicle of 10th century Germany written by Widukind of Corvey...

    ("The Deeds of the Saxons")
  • Adelaide, Abbess of Vilich
    Adelaide, Abbess of Vilich
    Adelaide, Abbess of Villich was a daughter of Megingoz des Brunharingen, Count of Guelders , and Gerberga of Metzgau, a granddaughter of Charles the Simple, king of the West Franks....

  • Egbert, Archbishop of Trier
    Egbert, Archbishop of Trier
    Egbert was the Archbishop of Trier from 977 until his death.Egbert was a son of Dirk II, Count of Holland. After being trained in the abbey of Egmond and the court of Bruno I, Archbishop of Cologne, he became the chancellor of Otto II in 976. The following year he was appointed to the archdiocese...


See also

  • Ottonian dynasty
  • Ottonian art
    Ottonian art
    In pre-romanesque Germany, the prevailing style was what has come to be known as Ottonian art. With Ottonian architecture, it is a key component of the Ottonian Renaissance named for the emperors Otto I, Otto II, and Otto III...

     (Pre-Romanesque art
    Pre-Romanesque art
    Pre-Romanesque art and architecture is the period in Western European art from either the emergence of the Merovingian kingdom in about 500 or from the Carolingian Renaissance in the late 8th century, to the beginning of the 11th century Romanesque period...

    )
  • Ottonian architecture
    Ottonian architecture
    Ottonian Architecture is an architectural style which evolved during the reign of Emperor Otto the Great . The style was found in Germany and lasted from the mid 10th century until the mid 11th century....